Union Soldiers and the Northern Home Front: Wartime Experiences, Postwar Adjustments

By Paul A. Cimbala; Randall M. Miller | Go to book overview

11
"Honorable Scars": Northern
Amputees and the Meaning of
Civil War Injuries

Frances Clarke

THREE YEARS after losing his arm during an infantry charge, Charles Coleman reflected on the joys of soldiering. Along with his fond remembrance of waving crowds, splendid landscapes, and idling time away by the campfire, Coleman reminisced about his final battle which left him a "one armed man for life." "Some may think this ought not to be mentioned with the pleasures of a soldiers life," he wrote, yet for Coleman, losing an arm had its own rewards. Surrounded by "kind surgeons" and "tender nurses" who tried their utmost to save his limb, he explained that "everything was procured for my comfort. … I was sent home free of expense" and later "fitted with an artificial arm." Moreover, he continued, a benevolent government "paid my board, transportation, and for my arm, and is now paying me eight dollars per month." He concluded that "the pleasure in all this consists in knowing that my feeble efforts for the benefit of our common country are remembered and appreciated and … I cannot but feel happy to think that I lost my arm in so good a cause and for so just a government."1

According to Coleman's narrative, "the great principle of love of country" led him to enlist, and supportive friends and loving parents "buoyed "him" up in the trials and hardships consequent upon the

My thanks to Michael Johnson, Dorothy Ross, Ronald Walters, Carolyn Eastman,
Tom Foster, and Rebecca Plant for their comments and suggestions.

1 Charles Coleman, competition 1, entry 49, William Oland Bourne Papers, Manu-
script Division, Library of Congress, Washington, D. C. Hereinafter, competition
and entry numbers are cited as follows: 1:49. In the quotations taken from these
manuscripts, I have retained original emphasis and misspellings throughout.

-361-

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Union Soldiers and the Northern Home Front: Wartime Experiences, Postwar Adjustments
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • The North''s Civil War Series ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1- Filling the Ranks 1
  • 1- "We Are All in This War" 3
  • 2- "Volunteer While You May" 30
  • 3- "If They Would Know What I Know It Would Be Pretty Hard to Raise One Company in York" 69
  • 2- Northerners and Their Men in Arms 117
  • 4- "Tell Me What the Sensations Are" 119
  • 5- "Listen Ladies One and All" 143
  • 6- Soldiering on the Home Front 182
  • 7- Saving Jack 219
  • 8- In the Lord''s Army 263
  • 9- Carrying the Home Front to War 293
  • 3- From War to Peace 325
  • 10- "Surely They Remember Me" 327
  • 11- "Honorable Scars" 361
  • 12- The Impact of the Civil War on Nineteenth-Century Marriages 395
  • 13- A Different Civil War 417
  • 14- "I Would Rather Shake Hands with the Blackest Nigger in the Land" 442
  • 15- "For Every Man Who Wore the Blue" 463
  • Afterword 483
  • Contributors 489
  • Index 493
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